Should I get rid of my toxic friend? How?
November 11, 2019 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone. My friend and I are both 30F and have been friends since we're 4 years old. Here's a brief description of my friend and our friendship. The positive: My friend and I can talk about pretty much everything and she's my go to when things get rough. I do believe she genuinely cares about me. When I'm down, she doesn't kick me down further and has reassured me and complimented me in the past.

The negative: My friend has also been jealous (has admitted this), competitive, and I think, a little controlling of me regarding particular issues. I think her all of these things are more subconscious than conscious to be honest. All of these traits stem from other ones that she has exhibited such as external locus of control (nothing is in her control), not having enough appreciation, and not taking accountability for her actions.

I'm really undecided as to whether or not I should still remain her friend. I can think of all the things I need to do: pro and con list, are there things she offers me that other friends don't, etc.

The truth is, she is the person I can rely on to complain to and I actually feel like she cares. But then she does other things that show me she's not really on my side. I do believe she's a decent person deep down and has shown me that, but her low self esteem and upbringing have contributed to who she is as a person.

A few years ago, I had a big fight with her and brought up some of the things she did. She a first said she didn't remember saying these things (which could be true because she doesn't have a good memory in general). Although I connected most of the dots in my head, I didn't do so for her and forgave her and tried to let it go. She stopped doing these things for a while, but she's starting to show her true colors again.

I documented all of the things she has said in a chart. That may sound extreme to some, but I keep reliving these events and have finally connected all of the dots. Writing this down has made everything concrete and easier for me to understand (or maybe I'm just neurotic!).

Someone suggested that I just create boundaries with her and others have said I should cut her out of my life. Have you experienced this or know someone who has and what is the best option do you think?

Thank you so much!

This is my first time using Imgur, so I hope the link works : )

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
So, I read all your charts, and some of that stuff (movie choices) seems like typical friend stuff to me, while some of it seems like sister/sister friction, which would make sense since you've been friends for so very long.
The larger question I think you have to ask yourself is, if you're keeping track of all the things she's said or done that made you feel crappy, maybe it's time to let her fade away and see how it is without that energy and influence in your life.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

To me she sounds like someone who just kind of blurts out what she's thinking without regard to tact (in the sense of "adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues"). I know because I could picture saying myself all of this stuff before I mentally grew up and learned better (Do I even know better now? Who knows). The kind of things she says sound innocent to me, more like just saying the first thing that comes to mind without a filter, and not like someone who's being mean on purpose to bring you down. I don't think overlooking these flaws would be a bad thing if that's what you want to do. Especially the "controlling" stuff, in my experience this comes from a gap in conversational styles that are OK in some families and not OK in others - I would probably get in trouble with you too for some of this stuff, but actually trying to "control" someone through just stating a differing opinion is the farthest thing from my mind.

That being said if you do feel like she's bringing you down and not adding anything positive to your life I'm of the opinion that it's better to make a clean break than enforcing boundaries because it's really hard to move someone back a level in intimacy especially if they don't understand why; you're just hurting their feelings without giving them an opportunity to heal from that.
posted by bleep at 10:23 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you tried calling these things out in the moment, rather than either ignoring them or laying them all out in one big pile?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:26 AM on November 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

I agree that your friend is competitive with you. That's not awesome, but it's not super abnormal. What would it be like for you if you decided not to care about her feelings of competitiveness? You could either ignore or comment every time it comes up. "Still making a competition, are you? That's your thing but you can leave me out of it." But if it "hooks" you that she's doing this, you might like to take space.

No one is perfect, and any friend you have will have ways that they rub you wrong. The key is to find people whose ways of rubbing you wrong don't drag you into behaving in ways you don't like or don't want to steer. Only you know if you can develop a healthy relationship to her ways of digging or undercutting you, or comparing herself to you.

ALSO, keep in mind that you don't have to end the friendship entirely to take some space from her. You could let there be more space in your relationship without a friend break up.
posted by spindrifter at 10:26 AM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think what spindrifter says about "only you know if you can develop a healthy relationship to her ways of digging or undercutting you" is right.

In my experience, all close friendships have these challenges. My closest friend and I often clash in some similar ways to the ones you list here (and some different ones). I try to remember that I rub her wrong too sometimes, and also I try to remember that when she's acting like that, it's usually at least half about her not me. It's a great act of friendship in those circumstances for me to either shrug it off, or to gently call her on it ("You know, I really don't appreciate you ragging on my grammar right now, could you cut it out?" and almost always, she does). It's possible that you can't find this balance in this friendship, or that she just can't work with you to address your feelings, and if that's so, you hereby have my permission (as if you need it!) to peace out on her.

Gven that some of these clashes are still haunting you literally 10 years later, though, I'd suggest that you talk those feelings through with a therapist. Whether you continue the friendship or not, it's really important that you get some perspective on these incidents and understand why they bother you so much. Otherwise they (or other incidents like them) will just keep bothering you. And if you are able to get to the root of your own reactions to her digs, you may find that you're able to keep her as a friend.
posted by branca at 10:38 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

None of this seems terribly healthy on either part - that she's as competitive as she is with you, or that you're tracking some extremely minor stuff (like movie tastes?) in such detail and still thinking about specific incidents years later, if I'm reading the timeline right.

I think that if she is still bringing some good things to your life and you want to try keeping her as a friend but setting boundaries, that would be worth a try. I'd get real comfortable with phrases like "it's not a contest" and "I don't like treating our friendship as a competition" and "please don't comment on my body / my sex life / whatever," and learning to change the subject. How she reacts to a few rounds of that will tell you a lot about whether this a friendship that's just fallen into some old not-great ruts that you can get back on track, or one that's run its course.

It's definitely also absolutely fine to just walk away if this friendship has gotten bad enough that it's not bringing you enough good to outweigh the parts of it that are difficult. Getting a difficult friendship back on track can be hard work and you don't have to do that work if you don't want. But you sound like you're not sure what you want, and cutting her out of your life entirely is the nuclear option, so you may as well try the lower-key option first.
posted by Stacey at 10:39 AM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

If you’re 30 now and that chart covers back to when you’re 18 then I’m having a hard time putting her in the "toxic" category. She certainly has displayed poor boundaries in what she has said at times, but that just seems like a small list for a 12 year period.

Given your description of her as usually being supportive I suspect that you could learn (if you chose) to let her issues be her issues, and to not hang your emotional well-being off of things you know she has problems with. That would definitely be some work on your part, but it would probably pay dividends elsewhere as well.

My $0.02 cents.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2019 [20 favorites]

Almost all of these statement seem either innocuous ("that movie is overrated") or at worse mildly thoughtless ("I would never be so lucky as to find a coupon like you did", "lots of people have allergies"). If they are bothering you so much that you're remembering them this vividly, over a period of years, then it seems like perhaps you two just aren't suited to each other. Perhaps you are a person who thinks very carefully before speaking and she just isn't? There are many friendships where people disagree with each others' movie choices and are occasionally complain about each others' 'good luck' - I think if a friend of mine gave me these examples as hurtful behaviors they wanted me to change, I would have a hard time identifying what counts as 'hurtful' in the moment because these seem very subtle and contextual to me. Even if I wanted to be a better friend, it might be hard for me to live up to these standards.
posted by Ausamor at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Firstly, I'm sorry about your frustrations with your friend! It's hard feeling both like you have an awesome, supportive friend AND that they're not-so-awesome sometimes.

I wonder if anything in the following might resonate with you:

I identified with your post and feelings and therefore I wonder if, like me, you have some social anxiety? I ask because I could have written your post five years ago: I had a friend of 15 years who I found judgmental and harsh (but also very supportive, kind, intelligent, interesting).

I'd leave my interactions with them feeling down, ruminating over things they'd said - things that made me frustrated in retrospect but that I hadn't addressed in the moment. I started distancing myself from them - doing a slow-fade.

But then...I got therapy and anti-anxiety drugs. And after a year or so, these frustrations vanished completely. Now, I know my friend didn't have a total change in their behavior in that time (we have discussed this), so I attribute most of that change to changes that occurred in myself. I no longer ruminate over social situations. I'm more apt to address things in the moment ("Hey, that sounds competitive - can you chill on that?" or "Ouch, that felt harsh - what did you mean?").

Now, I'm so grateful and proud to have a friend of 20 years - I can share anything with them, count on for them those middle-of-the-night emergencies, I can be myself with them and have the best time.

If any of the above resonates with you, I'd ask myself some questions:
- Do I have similar anxieties with other people / social situations?
- Does competition / judgment / controlling behavior trigger any memories from my childhood?
- Why do I feel the need to keep track of my frustrations so carefully?
- Why do I not feel free in the moment to show anger / frustration / hurt to my friend?
- Could I benefit from therapy to discuss these feelings, and maybe social challenges in general?
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2019 [14 favorites]

My partner is a therapist and is fond of citing the research that says that our brains / frontal lobe isn't even fully formed until we're 25.

When I look back to myself at 30 I realize just how poor my skills were for being a friend and dealing with friendship and all of that.

If you've known this person all your life, effectively, I suggest you stop making charts of what they do that you don't like and focus on bettering the relationship. Work on your boundaries. Work on not letting little stuff disrupt a friendship. We all do annoying shit. Learn to sort out what's really malicious and what's just bad habit.

You can chuck the relationship, but that's a lot of history to throw away. I have or had friends when I was 30 that I threw in the towel on that I look back now and feel like it was premature. (And some that weren't, to be fair.) I wouldn't be so quick to flush those relationships now.
posted by jzb at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm curious about how you'd feel if you made a chart of incidents in which your friend was helpful or supportive, as you say she has been in your life. I don't think many of us would stand up to the scrutiny of having times when we were careless with our words or inadvertently hurt someone written down on charts. All people make mistakes, and sometimes we hurt people we care about when we don't mean to. Writing it all down like that would make anyone look bad (and I don't think I could be friends with someone if I knew she was making lists of my faults - seriously, ask yourself how you'd feel if this friend was making a list like that about you). And some of these are just differences of opinions - friends don't have to agree on everything!

So seriously - make a list showing times when your friend was kind or thoughtful before you decide to toss this relationship. As you get older, I think you will find that people you've been friends with for a very long time are valuable simply because they've been part of your life for so long. That doesn't mean that it's never OK to end those friendships, but think carefully before you do so.
posted by FencingGal at 11:35 AM on November 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

Part of the give and take of relationships is at least accepting if not embracing the other person's flaws and understanding those flaws are all about them, not you. It's also, a little bit, about lovingly holding them accountable for them too - not all day every day, but sometimes saying "wait, what does it mean when you say that?" and sometimes just letting shit go when you don't want to ask and you can tell it's just that thing they do when they're stressed or whatever.

This does not sound like a toxic relationship. It sounds like she's maybe a little immature, a little lacking in self-awareness - a lot of people don't really get that locked down until their 30s. It also sounds like you're a little sensitive (and definitely social anxiety can manifest in the ways you've described feeling) and probably a decent leap ahead of her on the self-awareness side.

In regards to the competitiveness in particular, women are socialized and encouraged to do this from the cradle, and it becomes a reflex. No thought, just kneejerk instant reaction, every single one a tiny little spark of self-loathing and the fear of falling short. A gift we can give each other is help getting over this. Don't scold, don't call out, just remind lovingly: hey, it's not a competition, it's nice when good things happen to ourselves and to our friends.

This is not a situation in which you are going to be injured in any way if she has a different opinion about a movie. If she's rude about it - "you're an idiot, that movie sucked" - learn to respond with appropriate stinkface! Push back a little! Don't keep a spreadsheet and whip it out years later. Sometimes it's in our closest more intimate relationships where we forget our manners because it's a safer space and we don't realize we're doing it until we get flagged. You could, with just a little bit of boundary reinforcement, maybe even guide the friendship into being better and kinder and even more valuable in your life than it is now.

And if you try that and it's not working, that's your sign that right now you've outgrown each other. If that's the case, you don't have to set it on fire, you can just back off for a while and see if you reconnect better later.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:38 AM on November 11, 2019 [16 favorites]

I'd strongly recommend that you seek therapy.

Even if many things your friend does are truly toxic, the fact is that you're impacted far worse by this consuming obsession than by her possible toxicity. You feel so bad about the things she says, and it has taken up so much emotional space in your life, that you've got 12 years' worth of grudges! This is the emotional equivalent of washing your hands 50 times after touching every doorknob: is there a chance that you did really manage to prevent an infection or ten (or you really wrote down many legitimate instances of meanness)? Sure. But the real problem is that you're wasting your life away in order to avoid a minor infection (or worrying over a small incident).

It doesn't have to be like this.

- You can learn to deal with hurt feelings by being honest about them in the moment rather than holding quiet grudges.

- You don't have to choose between cutting people off and putting up with their unkindness. You can speak up and negotiate for mutual support, respect, and kindness in a relationship.

- You can trust your own senses and your own feelings questioning your perceptions.

- You can choose to be around people whom you genuinely like and enjoy rather than feeling like labeling someone as 'toxic' is the only way out of an incompatible relationship.

- You can feel grounded in yourself and secure in your opinions without needing close friends to always agree with you or affirm your tastes.

All of these are things MANY of us struggle with. I personally did for decades! There is help for you, as there was for me. Therapy is designed precisely to address issues like these. You are at the perfect age to undertake therapeutic treatment: your brain is almost-quite done growing, you're not likely to be dealing with crazy adolescent hormones, and you are entering a new phase of mature self-awareness. There has never been a better time for you to extract the maximum value out of therapy.
posted by MiraK at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

I've never kept a chart documenting incidents in any relationship - friend, family, lover, etc. - and I think that kind of score keeping isn't healthy for any relationship; I think it tends to push relationships into a transactional space which isn't very forgiving of people's human tendencies to make mistakes. I do think it's worth examining your impulse to do this and to hold someone to that kind of account.

Learning when to let go or let something pass versus when to deal with it is an important skill to have. In any close relationship you're going to have to balance the two impulses. When it comes to dealing with friction the best thing to do is deal with. Maybe not in the exact moment when you are feeling hot or emotional or when the other person might be feeling hot or emotional and get defensive, but within 48 hours when you've had the chance to gather your thoughts. That kind of airing out of issues is definitely scary and puts you in a vulnerable place, but it's worth it to develop that relationship skill. Truly.

Finally, I have had friendships that have waxed and waned over the years. It's possible to step back for a bit, not be in as close a touch and then rekindle a friendship.
posted by brookeb at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

> I know at the very least that I have to put up a boundary but I don't know how to do that.

Perhaps you do need to learn how to put up boundaries as well, I don't know, but THIS situation calls more for a different skill: honesty from you in the moment, the ability to negotiate within relationships in a loving way.

Will boundaries - such as going low contact or no contact - stop your friend annoying you? Yeah, sure. But it's also like taking a hammer to a dandelion. The root of your issues will still remain and pop up in other areas, even if this one blossom is successfully crushed.
posted by MiraK at 11:58 AM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

One thought from my own life that might resonate: If I get in the habit of holding in my own feelings and reactions with someone, our friendship will eventually start feeling stifling — even if it's a totally solid friendship, even if they're a wonderful person, and even if the feelings I'm holding in are pretty mild and manageable.

Is it possible that that's what's happening here? It sounds to me like your friend is an ordinary, slightly flawed person, and a pretty good friend. The things that bother you are pretty normal things for an ordinary, slightly flawed friend to say. But if you've been holding in your reactions to whatever annoying comments she makes since you were four years old, or only bringing them up way after the fact, then I'm not surprised you're frustrated. Holding stuff in is hard and tiring, and it's totally reasonable to feel done doing that without being done with the friendship.

The answer might be not to end the friendship, but just to cultivate the habit of saying "Awkward..." or "Wow, that wasn't what I needed to hear" or "Hey, what the fuck" or whatever, or calling her out in real time on things like "I wish you wouldn't comment on my weight and the things I eat." Even if those things don't change her behavior, just letting your feelings show instead of bottling them up might change how you feel about being around her.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

What is pushing you to decide to fully cut this person off or not, rather than ease back on the time you spend with her? Anxiety can manifest as the idea that “if I just do this one thing, I will feel good again,” and in our imaginations it can feel a lot easier to say “get out of my life forever” and cross someone off a list than to deal over time with the fact that our friends are real people with flaws.

I also think there’s something in her competitiveness that sets off competitiveness in you, and that’s part of what you dislike. I don’t like feeling competitive, but being around someone who clearly sees me as competition sets off the little animal in me that wants to win.

I could make long lists about how annoying some of the people in my life can be at their worst (and at my worst), but when I had a family tragedy last year, seeing their faces around me reminded me of what’s really important. Someone who’s known you since you were 4 is worth keeping around, imo. That’s an irreplaceable friendship.
posted by sallybrown at 12:11 PM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

As for immaturity, I feel like she is mentally stuck at 14, but regardless, this is still behavior that pisses me off and makes me uncomfortable. I know at the very least that I have to put up a boundary but I don't know how to do that.

I give you permission to not be friends with someone you think is mentally stuck at 14. I am trying to be polite, but that's not a very kind thing to say. I certainly would not be debating if I should be friends with someone I think so little of and hope anyone who thinks that of me has the grace to just let us not speak.

Let this non-friendship go.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:12 PM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't know why the thought of me cheating on my boyfriend would bring a smile to her face. I don't know why she would gleefully ask how it's strange that just as I ended my relationship she was possibly starting one herself.

What if you'd asked? What if you'd given yourself permission to be like, okay, if she says something that makes no sense, I'm going to ask what she was getting at or what kind of response she was hoping for?

Because, like, perpetually trying to guess what someone is thinking is also exhausting.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you do stay in this friendship, I'd concentrate on two things:
1) calling this out in the moment. Don't make lists, address it as it happens. Even saying something like, "why would you say something like that?" or, "wow, ouch, that's not very nice" or, "are you negging me again?" or whatever. It doesn't have to be super dramatic, but mark the comments you have a problem with in the moment. This will get her to notice the issue as it happens and also allows her to explain or correct.
2) are you using her to dump on too much? It sounds like she's your preferred person to complain to and dump on when things get tough for you. This is not the best pattern because it makes a significant amount of your interaction with her somewhat negative, and it could give her a distorted view of you. Consider seeing a therapist for some of this processing instead of saving it all for your friend.

If making adjustments in your behavior and how you manage the relationship doesn't make enough of a change for you and you feel like the friendship is too negative, pull back and limit the friendship.
posted by quince at 12:24 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Since you're already in therapy: maybe you can ask your therapist to help you roleplay similar scenarios to help you practice being able to respond appropriately in the moment instead of ruminating and letting too much time pass. Not just with your friend but with other people as well.
posted by acidnova at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

but I feel like she doesn't have an excuse to feel bad about herself.

People can have anxiety/depression regardless of their situation in life. Don't assume that because her career and relationships are on a good track that she doesn't have other stuff going on in her life or in her head. Obviously, nobody here could diagnose her, but that doesn't mean she isn't dealing with something.
posted by acidnova at 12:38 PM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

I just try to think the best of them.

I don't think you do. Which is not wrong or right! It's okay! But it's worth asking why you tell yourself you try to think the best of people when even your examples immediately following this statement are ... decidedly not "the best" assumptions. Thinking the best of someone generally means not making any assumptions whatsoever about why they said what they said. It usually means saying, "Huh. I wonder why she said that." And then either asking the other person, or else letting it go! Truly! Not making uncharitable or illogical assumptions. Not saving it in your memory bank to be called up at a later time when your feelings are hurt in the same way again.

I just think at 30 years old, the behavior needs to end.

Yeah, you're going to be very disappointed.

(1) because hanging your emotional wellbeing and the wellbeing of the relationship solely on the choices of someone else always leads to disappointment. You dobn't get to control her feelings or her behavior. Focus instead on what you can control - your own behavior, your own responses to her.

(2) ESPECIALLY because you don't even speak up and tell her there's something wrong with what she's doing! What reason does she have to end her behavior? She doesn't even know it's bothering you.

but I feel like she doesn't have an excuse to feel bad about herself

This is another instance where you have inappropriate expectations about her feelings and her behavior. You really don't get to tell her how to feel. You're setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment by having these expectations of what it's okay for her to feel.
posted by MiraK at 12:39 PM on November 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

I don’t really like competitive people either. I do think, in my personal value system, friend dumping someone you’ve known for this long because they’re competitive is sort of shitty. There’s a middle ground where you say “hey, you’re getting competitive again and it’s hurting my feelings a bit” and she chills out a little for a while. Rinse, repeat, forever.

I mean...will she permanently change? Likely not; but she seems to be happy for you and supportive in general, so...I’d just acknowledge that she’s competitive and needs to be reminded periodically to cut it out.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:39 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Old friends are not a renewable resource. Factor that in when you’re deciding whether to cut ties.
posted by less of course at 12:54 PM on November 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

Old friends are not a renewable resource

They sort of are like one though. There are plenty of people who I was friends with at 30 (and definitely much earlier in life), who, because our lives or personalities or circumstances changed in certain ways that our long term friendships were incompatible on a day-to-day basis, and we took a break from each other (in both dramatic or non-dramatic fashion.) Now that time has passed, it's not the same (nor would it have been if we'd remained friends for the last 15 years) but we are able to reconnect in a different way (still based on our shared past) that might not have been possible if we hadn't taken that break.

So they are renewable like soil, in that sometimes you have move things into a fallow period if you want crops to go at all. * It sounds like this might be what you need to happen for both of you because I think the toxicity is running both ways, whether you intend it or not.

* I only ran with this metaphor because it aligned with the advice I was going to give, and didn't mean for it to seem like I was disagreeing with lessofcourse, whose point is true.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

She's a friend. Maybe reduce the intensity of the friendship, spend a bit or a lot less time together. When I feel toxic about a friend, I back off. Imgur gave me a not found message.
posted by theora55 at 1:44 PM on November 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

TBH I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who made a list of my failings. I would hope my friends trusted me and liked me enough to tell me directly if there were a problem, especially if it's something I actually could change about myself. I agree with others that pushing this person out of your life- this person you've known since you were 4- is unfortunate. It probably feels like you can't delegate this person to "casual friend you see every 6+ months" because you've known them for 26 years. You sound enmeshed. It might be better to untether yourself. And if you really are meant to stay friends for life, then taking a year- or even five!- off from your friendship won't change that. But I wouldn't make tallying up wrongdoings a hobby. It kind of places blame on someone when it's really your own emotions you need to cope with and address.
posted by erattacorrige at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

Hey outlander, just an FYI, the imgur links are giving me a 404 not found error. I've favorited the answers that resonated with me based on what you've written here, especially Lyn Never's really beautiful and kind answer, but I don't feel I can do your question justice without seeing the specifics of your complaints. FWIW, I'd like to try, so if you're still interested in more answers, perhaps you can repost the images? If not, I think you've gotten some great answers here.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lyn Never's comment belongs n a textbook on howto have a good relationship.
posted by theora55 at 5:52 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's a huge range of options to deal with this between "putting up with anything and everything" on one side and "cutting them off" on the other.

I get a "not found" message so I can't see your charts, but it sounds like you have accumulated a large number of hurtful incidents over the years, and that's not good. It's okay to seek reciprocity and support from your friendships, but one of the best ways of doing that is to speak up in the moment. As others have pointed out, you don't have to do so in a dramatic way, just a simple "ouch!" or "hey, is today let's-pick-on-Outlander-day?" can be enough to make her realize that what she said had a negative impact on you. If she cares about you and the friendship, she will apologize and try to do better. If she doesn't try to change her behaviour, you have a different set of problems.

It sounds like both of you are leaning heavily on this friendship for support and venting in tough times, and while there is nothing wrong with that, things can get pretty stressful if you are each other's only outlet, especially if you are both feeling a bit down and negative. I'd suggest trying to expand our social circle and spending less intense time with this particular friend, while working on speaking up and setting boundaries, rather than completely abandoning a long and important friendship. These things wax and wane over the years, but it's easier to do that if you don't completely burn your bridges.
posted by rpfields at 6:43 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

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